Trump’s response to the October 24th bombing attempts tries—and fails—to mask his history of violent rhetoric
Several prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have been targeted in attempted bombings. President Donald Trump called for the country to “unify” in the aftermath of these attempted attacks, but given his history of violent rhetoric, his statement is at best a hollow shell, at worst a flimsy cover-up for his part in the violence.
The New York Times reported today, October 24th, that explosive devices had been sent to several of Trump’s critics, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and CNN. Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, liberal donor George Soros, and former Attorney General Eric Holder were also targeted. The Times reports that all of the envelopes listed former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s address as the return address. Wasserman Schultz actually received the package that was meant for Holder because it was mislabeled.
During a press briefing on the afternoon of the 24th, the president issued a statement in response to the attempted bombings.
"In these times, we have to unify, we have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America," Trump said.
Earlier in the day, Trump retweeted a statement from Vice President Mike Pence condemning the attacks and saying that they “have no place in this country.”
“I agree wholeheartedly!” the president wrote.
Although Trump said he condemned political attacks today, in the past, he has encouraged them.
The president has a long history of using hateful rhetoric to fire up his base, and in some cases, he has even directly called for violence against those who oppose him. According to The Hill, Trump called for Clinton to be arrested during the 2016 campaign, and often encouraged chants of “Lock her up!” at his rallies. ABC News notes that at a 2016 rally in Iowa, Trump told his supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters, even promising he would pay their legal fees. Later that year, a protester at a Trump rally was actually assaulted.
The president “jokes” about violence against the media. In July 2017, he tweeted a video clip edited to depict him tackling CNN, and just last week, he lauded a politician who body-slammed a reporter as “my kind of guy.” According to The Guardian, in August, two U.N. experts warned that Trump’s anti-media rhetoric could lead to attacks on journalists.
On top of all this, the president has repeatedly espoused racism. In November 2017, he retweeted anti-Muslim videos, and in June 2017, he said that 15,000 immigrants from Haiti “all [had] AIDS,” according to The New York Times. And the president’s remarks seem to have incited real-world crimes. According to The Washington Post, there were more hate crimes reported the day after Trump’s election than on any other day in 2016.
And when he is not encouraging violence, Trump has been reluctant to condemn it in the past. After white supremacists killed a counter-protester and injured many more during a 2017 march in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president infamously said there had been violence “on many sides.” When five newspaper reporters were killed in a shooting in June, NBC News reported that Trump initially refused to comment, finally breaking his silence to only say that his “thoughts and prayers” were with those affected.
The bottom line is that Trump has been inciting political violence since he entered the political sphere, and his condemnation of today’s attempted bombings is too little, too late. If Trump really wants to take a stand against violence, he needs to stop encouraging it.